John Hawkins



Dr John Hawkins

Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff, home to a huge load of pictures, and my daily blog.

My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.

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Recent Entries:
Sunny Saturday
Beer in the Mews
Thai Green Curry
Whisky Society with Al
Andrew's Last Night
Linguini with Samphire
Chie back in London
Gentleman's Day Out
Birthday/Farewell Drinks for Andrew
Kensington
Reeling
New Government
Monday
Magnificent Maps
Back to London
Last Night in New York
Cocktails from Another Era
Pizza, Beer, Falafel and Ice Cream in New York
Bukhara Grill and Campbell Apartment
Chinatown and the Ear Inn
Sunday in New York
First Night in New York; A Tour of New York's Oldest Bars
Friday
Reading Beer and Cider Festival
Wednesday
Tuesday
Monday
Omiyage

Sunny Saturday
[Saturday 22nd May 2010]
Really fabulous weather today, prompting us to spend the majority of it out of doors, enjoying the sun.

Started off with breakfast at the Regency Cafe, then did a bit of shopping (went a bit crazy at Robert Dyas and bought bagfuls of stuff), and then went back home to enjoy an early afternoon lounge around in the gardens - it really was very lovely indeed out there.

Later on in the afternoon we decided to venture to St. James's Park for a late afternoon picnic, which was also very nice indeed.
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Beer in the Mews
[Friday 21st May 2010]
The weather had turned rather splendid towards the end of this week (last week's almost wintery temperature quickly became a dim and distant memory) and so this evening it seemed highly appropriate to go somewhere that we could enjoy an outdoor beer in the late evening sun - pretty much the first "proper" outdoor drink of the season (proper in the sense of doing it because it was pleasant, rather than as a feat of endurance).

To this end Belgravia beckoned, and a few of us from the office headed to the Horse and Groom, where, when the weather is nice, the patrons spill out into the rather charming cobbled mews in which it is situated. This was jolly nice.
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Thai Green Curry
[Thursday 20th May 2010]
Made Thai Green curry for dinner today, it actually came out rather well. Managed to find some proper looking green curry paste in Sainsbury's which didn't contain any fish extract, and bought a block of "creamed coconut". For the actual ingredients I used some marinated tofu, some Japanese mushrooms (shiitake, bunapi and shimeji), some purple sprouting broccoli, carrots and a bit of orange pepper.
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Whisky Society with Al
[Wednesday 19th May 2010]
It had been some time since Al and I had visited the whisky society together, so tonight he proposed we do just that. Also fit in a spot of dinner at the ever reliable Fabrizio's.
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Andrew's Last Night
[Tuesday 18th May 2010]
Although we'd already had the "official" farewell drinks for Andrew from work, tonight would be his last night before he embarked on his two month sailing adventure, and so it seemed a secondary more event to mark the occasion was warranted. Went to the Cardinal. Didn't stay particularly late, as Andrew wanted to get back and finish off his packing.
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Linguini with Samphire
[Monday 17th May 2010]
Made a very gourmet sort of a dinner this evening - I had found to my surprise Waitrose were selling fresh samphire (I've never seen it in a supermarket before). So I decided a simple but interesting dish would be to just steam this, and served it tossed in a little olive oil and seasoning with some really good linguini. It was rather sublime actually - like a sort of maritime asparagus.
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Chie back in London
[Sunday 16th May 2010]
Spent most of the day cleaning the flat in preparation for Chie's return from Japan this evening. I really went to town - far beyond the basics of just picking stuff up off the lounge floor and putting it in a pile on the coffee table, and addressing the backlog of washing up in the sink. In addition to vacuuming I also did a number of jobs that only we only ever get around to once in a while; things like attempting to remove the limescale from the bath and bathroom sink, and washing the shower curtain. The flat looked rather nice by the end of it all.

Made a sort of roast meal in the evening, although couldn't really find anything to have as a centrepiece, so ended up with a sort of improvised lentil stew which wasn't very successful. Still, the potatoes, parsnips and yorkshire puddings all came out very well.
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Gentleman's Day Out
[Saturday 15th May 2010]
I was in the mood for a very Gentlemanly day out today, so I donned my tweed jacket - hopefully the last time this would be warranted before the summer started in earnest (it had certainly seemed like it was still a way off this week) - and headed for St. James's. I took a leisurely stroll through St. James's Park to get there, which was all very nice.

Started off with a spot of shopping on my favourite Jermyn Street, and bought some new shirts at Harvie and Hudson. It's probably my favourite shop for shirts - wonderfully traditional.

Then lunch beckoned, and I chose to dine at the Fountain Restaurant at Fortnum and Mason - which, being at the back of F&M, conveniently faces out onto Jermyn Street. Surprisingly enough they had a copy of the Guardian to hand there, so I sat and read that whilst waiting for my food to arrive - a notion which rather appealed to me given what I assume to be the typical political leanings of the regular clientele here. That said, given that the Guardian had been backing the Lib Dems in the run up to the election, and what with the new coalition, perhaps the Guardian is suddenly no longer considered the preserve of the loony left?

Anyway, I started lunch with a spring salad (including sprouting broccoli - an interesting salad ingredient - and the excellent Berkswell cheese), then for a main had a mushroom and chestnut risotto. I was willing to forgive the slightly unimaginative vegetarian option as the addition of chestnuts was an interesting touch. Finished with an espresso - in addition to their famous teas, Fortnum and Mason also sell very good coffee - and whilst consistency-wise this may not have been the best espresso I've ever had, it was certainly very fragrant.

I didn't really have anything planned after that: went for a brief wander around the Food Hall in Fortnum and Mason, and then headed out onto Piccadilly. Luckily just over the road was the Royal Academy of Arts, and one of their posters caught my eye - an exhibit called "Relics of old London: Photography and the spirit of the city". This was a small exhibition of early photographs (1870s and 1880s) of London, taken of buildings which at the time were already considered to be of historical importance and/or in danger of being lost. I found it absolutely enthralling, and spent several minutes on every image. I really like the notion that the idea of "harkening back to a simpler time" is in itself nothing new, the Victorians had the same warm sense of nostalgia for things from earlier eras that we now have for all things Victorian.

Did a bit more wandering about and shopping after that - bought some chocolate for Chie at Jef de Bruges, which I'd heard was supposed to be good - before eventually heading back home.
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Birthday/Farewell Drinks for Andrew
[Friday 14th May 2010]
Andrew at the office was going to be taking a two month break from next week to go sailing, joining a crew for a leg of a round-the-world yacht race. It was also his birthday, give or take a day, so some sort of celebratory event was very much in order. Started off superbly with a couple of bottles of Veuve Cliqcuot in the office (it seems like a while since there has been decadent behaviour like this), then went along to the usual end-of-the-week-beer-and-pizza thing, before eventually heading out to a couple of pubs.

I'd originally proposed that we could attempt a pub crawl of all the pubs in central London called the Ship (a fittingly nautical theme), but by the time we left the office, there wasn't much of the evening left, so this was somewhat more modestly refined to just going to the pub nearest the office which was (sort of) called the ship - in fact the Ship and Shovell. On the way there we also popped into the nearby Sherlock Holmes to get a quick pub dinner.

Had forgotten just how great a pub the Ship and Shovell (or should I say pair of pubs?) is, and the Sherlock Holmes really isn't that bad either, despite its obvious tourist appeal.
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Kensington
[Thursday 13th May 2010]
Having spent the last few nights in by myself (Chie still being away in Japan) I decided I should get out this evening.

Thanks to a handy trick in Google Maps I was able to look around for pubs mentioned on the excellent pubs.com (which focuses on interesting historic London pubs) that I hadn't yet been to. I decided therefore that Kensington might be a good area to head for.

So I tried out the Scarsdale and the Elephant and Castle, both decent enough pubs in their own right. The Scarsdale was definitely the more well heeled of the two, but seemingly not irritating with it - the staff were certainly friendly and the regulars seemed relatively inoffensive. The Elephant and Castle was much more your typical down to earth boozer, and very handy to know given it is a stone's throw from High Street Kensington tube.

Having recently seen the feature "London's Best Pizza" in Timeout, and wondered, somewhat incredulously, why Oliveto didn't get so much as a mention; I had been keen to try some of these places. So tonight I went for dinner at Da Spago. It was, OK I guess, but not really in the same league as Oliveto, which of course was an outcome I actually found quite satisfying.
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Reeling
[Wednesday 12th May 2010]
Still reeling from the day before somewhat. Not the most cheerful of days.
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New Government
[Tuesday 11th May 2010]
Popped into the supermarket on my way home from work as the cupboards were getting a little bare. Plonked the shopping down in the kitchen when I got back, and went for a quick lie down. I think I must have had a bit of a delayed reaction of the jetlag, as I actually dozed off. It was rather a nice sensation actually, I felt very relaxed indeed, London seemed briefly very quiet and peaceful.

Then I woke up, started to make dinner, turned on the telly, and suddenly wondered how long I'd actually been asleep for. I had of course been following all the post election coverage of the hung parliament, and thought things might continue in this limbo state for some time. So it was really a bit of a shock to switch on to Gordon Brown's resignation speech, and hear Cameron being referred to as the new PM. I suppose I should have accepted this as inevitable as soon as I heard the election result last week, but I'd either been ignorant or just very optimistic and it really wasn't until this evening that it sunk in.

So, it's back to the 1980s then...

I'm so glad I had that little nap before I heard the news - it would be the last time I would feel at ease for some number of days.
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Monday
[Monday 10th May 2010]
Back working in the London office again today. Chie still in Japan this week though. Nothing much to report really. Quiet night in, spaghetti for dinner.
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Magnificent Maps
[Sunday 9th May 2010]
What a delight it was to wake up in London this morning.

My friend Al had proposed going to take a look around the Magnificent Maps exhibit at the British Library today. Probably a very good idea to get out and do something the first day back to avoid the temptation of giving into jetlag and having an afternoon nap.

Also met Al's new girlfriend, Charlotte, for the first time today.

Really enjoyed the exhibit - particular highlights for me were a splendidly absurd Grayson Perry take on the Mappa Mundi, and a rather fabulous Victorian schoolroom map of Europe, in impressive full colour. Also took a look at what I assume to be a permanent exhibition of the British Library's "treasures" which was interesting in and of itself - I didn't realise they had one of the four copies of the Magna Carta there.

After the exhibit, we wandered from the British Library toward the centre, and had lunch at Busaba Eathai, the "communal dining" Thai place which seems to be enjoying continuing unwavering popularity. I then introduced Al to the Dog and Duck, which it seems he hadn't been to before, and in turn he introduced me to a bar called Lab.

Somehow it was suddenly then dinner time so, as we happened to be in that neck of the woods, I proposed okonomiyaki at Abeno Too, which seemed to be rather well received.
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Back to London
[Saturday 8th May 2010]
Got up at 5am this morning, but consoled myself with the fact this was actually quite a good strategy for re-adjusting to the time zone difference - this translated to 10am UK time, so it was almost like I had given myself a day's head start on beating the jetlag.

Caught a cab to Newark Airport, trying to cut it a bit finer than last time, remembering that Newark was a tiny airport which seemed to take no time at all to get through security etc, and also that there was pretty much nothing there.

Had a surprisingly nice breakfast in Newark Airport from a Mexican place there - I had a breakfast quesadilla, which was scrambled eggs with cheese in a flour tortilla, with some salad, salsa and guacamole. Whilst the general consensus seems to be that Mexican food is far better on the West Coast of the US than the East, regardless even here it seems to be the one exception to the general rule I had observed that food in America is mostly pretty bland and uninteresting.

Flight was very quiet, lots of empty seats. It seemed to have an older style of seat back entertainment system where the moves were not on demand, so I had to plan my viewing more carefully. Watched Nine, a decision I came to regret somewhat. Also watched A Single Man which was rather depressing but beautifully shot and very well acted (well done Tom Ford and Colin Firth).

The flight was longer than usual, thanks to the latest volcanic ash shenanigans, which meant we had to fly a more Southerly route than normal. So we landed at Heathrow about an hour late, and by the time I got back to central London it was around 10 o' clock.

Having not really had a decent meal on the plane (or indeed all week really, thank to the surprisingly poor standard on food in New York) and given that the coach from Heathrow would drop me off at Victoria Coach station, conveniently located on the edge of Belgravia, I couldn't resist going for a late dinner at Oliveto.

Pizza is apparently a big deal in New York, but I'd really not seen what all the fuss was about - on both this visit and the previous one I'd tried pizza places which were supposed to be very good, but to my tastes had been pretty bland and ordinary. Dinner at Oliveto confirmed that yes, I really did still like pizza, just not the sort they have in New York.
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Last Night in New York
[Friday 7th May]
Didn't really do much this evening - stayed at the office until about 7:30, then wandered back to my hotel, by way of a burrito place. Stayed in my hotel room for the remainder of the evening and went to bed early, as I'd have to be up at 5am the next morning to pack and head off to the airport.
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Cocktails from Another Era
[Thursday 6th May 2010]
Went back to the Campbell Apartment this evening, this time with a friend from work, who up until now had worked at the London office, but was currently in the process of transferring to New York.

Tried some of their speciality "prohibition era inpsired" cocktails rather than just the Dry Martini this time, and fared somewhat better - I particularly enjoyed the Bayard Fizz, which had a very pleasant flavour of cherries to it.
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Pizza, Beer, Falafel and Ice Cream in New York
[Wednesday 5th May 2010]
Continuing in their efforts to change my opinion of the food in New York, tonight a big team outing was organised to a pizza place called Patsy's which several of them considered to be one of the better New York pizzerias. I like to think I went there with an open mind, but I was a bit underwhelmed. There was nothing wrong with it particularly, it was just a bit bland and unexciting. I guess Americans and Europeans just have a very different idea of what pizza should be.

Anyhow, disappointment with the food aside, it seemed rude not to make the best of the opportunity to socialise with my New York colleagues, and so after the pizza place I proposed we should go and find somewhere to have a drink, and from there on it turned into a rather long night. I think we went to a total of three different bars, but as I was just following the locals I didn't really pay much attention to where they were or what they were called. All seemed to be quite beer focused - the first had a definite Belgian slant, the second had an impressive array of what I assumed to be beers from local microbreweries and the third, well, I don't really remember the third. A surprise hit of the evening was a blueberry beer at the second bar. Sounds like an abomination but if the Belgians can make cherry and strawberry beers why can't the Americans make blueberry beers?

The evening ended with a late night visit to a falafel place - I suppose this is the New York equivalent of going for a kebab. Pleasingly though the falafel version is somewhat more vegetarian compatible and I recall rather enjoying this. Then inexplicably an ice cream van arrived seemingly from nowhere. I don't think I've ever had an ice cream at 3AM before.
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Bukhara Grill and Campbell Apartment
[Tuesday 4th May 2010]
I made my disappointment with the food in New York known to my American colleagues today, which they took with very good grace. I had imagined there might be retaliatory jibes made at British food, but instead, they set about trying to suggest places I might like, which I thought was very nice of them.

One colleague really went out of his way and very generously provided quite a long list of restaurants. However, given that the places I'd been to the first two nights had been places the locals considered to be very good, I wasn't taking any chances. After three nights of awful dinners I really needed a decent meal, so I went with the ultra safe option of an Indian restaurant that my colleague had recommended - the Bukhara Grill.

I certainly did have a decent meal for the first time so far on this trip, but unsurprisingly I've had better Indian food back in the UK - and this place was really pricey - a starter, main course, two beers and service came to a whopping $70 - almost 50 at the current exchange rate. That's really expensive for Indian food.

On the plus side this took me to quite a different part of New York - Midtown East - and getting there took me past the somewhat impressive Grand Central station. I went back by way of it as well, and decided to take a wander through the station which was rather pleasant - something of an architectural pearl amidst New York's generally rather samey buildings which really don't appeal to me all that much.

A colleague back in London had recommended I visit a bar called The Campbell Apartment, and whilst wandering through Grand Central I realised it was actually part of the station complex. So I thought I'd pop in briefly to see what it was like. The place struck a chord, and went some way to making up for the disappointment of the oldest New York bars which didn't seem to have made much of an effort to preserve their original character. The Campbell Apartment, on the other hand, whether real or artificial had quite a unique atmosphere which successfully evoked some sense of another era.

I walked back to my hotel from there, past the Empire State Building. Overall definitely an improvement on the previous evenings of this trip.
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Chinatown and the Ear Inn
[Monday 3rd May 2010]
Dinner had been pretty disappointing the last two nights in New York. I thought this might have been down to the fact that I'd been going to places chosen by people from work, none of whom were vegetarians, so thought I might fare better if I went my own way this evening.

So I ventured into New York's Chinatown in the evening, having read some good reviews for a place called Vegetarian Dim Sum House, and Mondays seeming generally well suited to Chinese food.

Perhaps I ordered badly, but the meal was a massive disappointment. It was a huge menu and so I took a while over choosing. Being keen to get a good cross section so ordered two dishes - the vegetarian mock roast pork (which I think was a special) and some kind of vegetarian mock "chicken". The "pork" was OK - not great - but OK. I think it was mostly made of seitan (wheat gluten), the sauce it was coated in was fairly plainly flavoured but not unpleasant. It was served on a bed of Chinese green vegetables (somewhere between pak choi and sprouting broccoli) which were a bit undercooked and hadn't been drained properly either. The "chicken" was just awful - it was made of yam - in fairness they did mention this on the menu and I probably should have just avoided it accordingly - but to me this really doesn't suit Chinese food well at all. The texture was all wrong, and it was topped with a giant mound of cheap looking overcooked stir fried vegetables in a big unappetising brown slurry.

This was now the third awful meal I'd had in a row, and given that I didn't really want to be in New York in the first place I was, by this point, in a bit of a foul mood. I trudged grumpily through Chinatown, disinterestedly past Little Italy, and in an attempt to lift my spirits I decided to try and head for one more from the list of New York's oldest bars - the Ear Inn.

This too was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. On the plus side the barman was British, and reassuringly gruff with it, but that aside this was just nothing at all like traditional pub, and pretty much just like any other American bar - they had loud music playing, a TV in the corner showing some kind of sport, and most people seemed to be eating burgers. The tables had tablecloths for christ's sake! Amidst all that it was really hard to get any sense of this place dating back to the 1800s, I'm not even sure it had retained many of it's original features.

I got a taxi back to my hotel from there, more keen than ever for this week to just be over and done with, so I could get back to London.
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Sunday in New York
[Sunday 2nd May 2010]
On my previous trip to New York I'd also had a free Sunday, but that time owing to a combination of jetlag, lethargy and a hangover I'd ended up wasting it and doing pretty much nothing at all. Consequently, despite this now being technically the third time I'd been to New York, I'd never actually done any real sightseeing - having generally only seen the office, hotels and a few bars and restaurants.

So today I was determine to actually get out and do some touristy stuff. I started off with a stroll in the morning, down to 5th Avenue, to look for a handbag Chie had requested. Unfortunately it seemed the shop didn't have it, and so I trudged back to my hotel somewhat disheartened. It was unexpectedly hot in New York, and the streets, not all that aesthetically pleasing to my eyes, had seemed somewhat tedious to trudge around. So when I got back to my hotel I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about heading out again, but emboldened by the sense of what a waste my day off had been on my last trip, I was determined to find something to do for the remainder of the day.

I decided it might be nice to be on a boat, and thought originally I would just go for one of the normal passenger boats that linked Manhattan with the other neighbouring parts of New York and New Jersey. However I eventually got the picture that these boats are only for commuters, and so mostly don't run at the weekend. After much more searching I found a touristy type boat trip which seemed to meet my needs reasonably well.

So I headed over to the West side of Manhattan, and got on a 90 minute boat trip from there, which went around Manhattan island, under the Brooklyn Bridge, then back round again and past the Statue of Liberty. The commentary was a little nauseating, to be frank, but I suppose the scenery was interesting, as hopefully the pictures can attest.

Meanwhile some of my colleagues were spending the afternoon at a sort of Japanese festival, and after finishing my boat trip I perhaps ill advisedly decided to try and join them there. It turned out it was all the way out at a park in Brooklyn, and it seemed to take ages to get there. By the time I arrived the festival was already starting to wind up, and all I really caught was the "Cosplay" show at the end... which was, err, interesting I guess, but certainly not worth all the effort of getting there!

In the evening I went out for dinner with my colleagues to a restaurant called Apiary. Alarm bells started to ring when there was no vegetarian option on the menu - I enquired about this to the waiter who said confidently that the chef could put something together. I should have known at this point that this was my cue to make my excuses and leave. I ended up with a bowl with a mixture of all the vegetable accompaniments to the main courses on the menu. It was a medley os side dishes, and not even particularly interesting side dishes - definitely not a proper meal. Considering how pricy this place was I left very disappointed.
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First Night in New York; A Tour of New York's Oldest Bars
[Saturday 1st May 2010]
Both Chie and I were getting flights from Heathrow at almost exactly the same time today. However, we were pretty much flying in opposite directions - she was going to visit her family in Japan for a couple of weeks, and I was going to New York for a week's business trip. It occurred to me we had never before been separated at such great speed - her plane travelling 500mph to the East, and mine flying 500mph to the West - so from 2pm onwards, every hour we were getting a thousand miles further apart. Still, although it was something of a downer that we wouldn't be seeing each other for two weeks, it was at least nice that we could go to the airport together.

I didn't have the best of flights - I seemed to get a severe sinusy type of headache which continued relentlessly from pretty much the moment we got up in the air, until the moment we landed. Watched the new Sherlock Holmes film, which was less bad than I had anticipated it would be. Also chatted a bit towards the end of the flight to the woman sitting next to me. I attempted to quiz her for recommendations for good places to eat in New York, and despite having lived there for some time she seemed to have a generally very negative opinion of the food in New York compared to the food in London. I had remembered being generally a bit underwhelmed on my last trip to New York, but I didn't fully realise as I was talking to her that this was a portent for the forthcoming week, which would turn out to be one of the most disappointing trips I've ever had anywhere, culinarily speaking.

Landed around 5 pm, and not wanting to waste a lot of my company's money on a taxi, I took the questionable decision of trying to get to Manhattan by subway. This took bloody ages. I later found out there are faster overground trains, but it seems using communal public transport like this is so alien to most Americans that there is pretty much no information in the airport telling you how to do so.

Some time after 7 I got to my hotel, where conveniently some other people from my company were also staying, which made arrangements for going out that evening much more straightforward. I had done a bit of advanced planning, and decided it might be interesting to try and visit some of the oldest bars in New York. We managed to go to three of these this evening, here are my reviews of each:

Pete's Tavern (1864)
Quite an attractive and presumably fairly old bar room at the front, by New York standards. We sat in the restaurant area at the back, which was less picturesque. Food was pretty average, no complaints about the service. I think I'd probably have enjoyed it more if we'd just stopped in for a drink and stayed in the bar room.


Mc Sorleys Old Ale House (1854)
This has the makings for a very acceptable substitute for the sorts of proper pubs we have back in the UK, but unfortunately tonight being a Saturday seemed to mean it was full of "frat boy" types being loud and boisterous. The staff were characterful and super efficient, the interior was quite attractive - a tongue-in-cheek sprinkling of sawdust on the floor to boot, plus all sorts of nik-naks hanging up on the wals, and the beer was pretty good too. If only all the frat boys weren't there it could have been really good.


White Horse Tavern (1880)
Attractive black and white frontage on this place, which really appealed to me, but other than that it left me feeling a bit cold somehow - hard to put my finger on it - inside it just felt like any other American bar. Perhaps this didn't really get a fair trial - by this time it was pretty late at night, having just got off the plane, and I was starting to fall asleep.
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Friday
[Friday 30th April 2010]
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Reading Beer and Cider Festival
[Thursday 29th April 2010]
Knocked off work early and headed for the Reading Beer and Cider festival, keen to be there in time for when it opened on at 4:30. I decided to concentrate just on perries, which I've really developed a taste for recently, and Reading has an unrivalled collection of - over 30 available the first night.

Helpfully they offer the beers/ciders/perries in thirds of a pint, so I was able to sample quite a few of these. Here are my tasting notes:

Barker's BURP. Dry, a bit tart, and some savoury notes on the palate. Really moreish, a hugely drinkable perry. Would go well with a Ploughman's lunch.

Ross on Wye. Slightly cloudy, and a strong nose: matches? Grilled cheese? Tangy, a little bitter, a bit challenging to drink to be honest...

Lambourn Valley "Old Berkshire". Slightly milky appearance, and again that hint of matches on the nose. The milky theme continues on the nose and palate, definitely something dairy related. Less sharp than the others so far.

Hartlands. This is a great Perry, delicate and perfumed but it really has guts to it. On the sweeter side but not overly so; a fragrant floral nose, sweet with some umami on the palate, and really big mouth feel. A joy to roll over the tongue. Definitely recommended.

Day's Cottage. A reddish tinge to this one. The nose reminds me of whisky barrels - has this spent time maturing in oak? Woody on the nose, woody on the palate. This is man's Perry! ...and yet the nose also has rose water, but then again very thirst quenching and gutsy.

Barbourne Blakeney Red SV. Peppery, gooseberries? There are notes here that wouldn't be out of place in a Champagne. Oh but also celery, some kind of chutney, a citrusy tang. Pleasantly acidic.

Brook Farm. A sort of medicated lemon on the nose, almost menthol. Or limoncello perhaps? Light and zingy on the palette, perhaps homemade lemonade. Whichever angle you approach it from, it's very lemony.

Hecks Gender Huffcap Single Variety. Not giving much away on the nose - dry and musty, but sumptuous sweet fruit on the palate.
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Wednesday
[Wednesday 28th April 2010]
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Tuesday
[Tuesday 27th April 2010]
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Monday
[Monday 26th April 2010]
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Omiyage
[Sunday 25th April 2010]
Went out shopping with Chie so she could buy omiyage (souvenirs) to take back to Japan in a week's time.
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